Music Review: Lulu, the New Metallica and Lou Reed Double Album

5:48:38 PM, EST: I originally planned to have a lengthy intro here as a sort of dissertation on the divisive nature of collaborative albums and Internet backlash and whatnot, but I think sticking to the basics will better suit the purpose of this review. To wit: Lulu is a new collaborative album by Lou Reed and Metallica. It’s planned for a worldwide October 31st release, and is currently streaming online. Everyone on the Internet hates it with a burning passion–so much so, in fact, that I decided that it’s not really a record meant for standard analysis and review. It is with great pleasure that I bring to you my extemporaneous stream of feelings, thoughts, associations, etc. that bubble forth while listening to Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu. Enjoy.
5:56:20 PM, EST: I have just come back from a quick glass of water and am now listening to “Brandenburg Gate,” the first track on Lulu. So far there’s just been some roughly textured acoustic guitar strumming. Oh wow, Lou Reed just started singing. I wish I could print the absolutely hilarious first line of this song, but it’s a little risqué. Seriously, look it up. The song just turned into a sort of sludgy metal jam and it’s really bad. Lou Reed is half-singing and half-vomiting the chorus, “SMALL TOWN GIRRRRRL”. He was never the most comprehensible of singers, but with old age he seems to have lost the ability to do anything but excrete words out of the front of his face. It’s very hard to listen to and sort of piercingly sad, like watching a mentally ill grandfather try to rock out to Master of Puppets (1986) but forgetting the words or how to breathe correctly or something. Okay, the song just ended. I still don’t know why it’s called “Brandenburg Gate”.

6:02:17 PM, EST: I have just begun the second song on the first disc (this album is two discs long. Did I mention that?). It’s called “The View,” and it features a passable thrash metal riff and more really scary old man “poetry” from Lou Reed. He just said “I want to see your suicide.” This all brings up an aspect of this album that I feared and tried to push to the back of my mind, which is that Lou Reed–remember, this guy fronted the Velvet Underground–seems to be shouldering most of the bad material here. Metallica aren’t exactly knocking it out of the park, but it’s my beloved Louie boy who seems to really be taking this stuff to an all-new level of terrible. James Hetfield just shouted “I AM THE TABLE” about seven times in a row, which is about seven times too many for a song that wants its listeners to take it with any level of seriousness.

6:12:07 PM, EST: The third track, “Pumping Blood,” starts with a sort of chamber music-y string intro. Oh man, now there’s some bass drum. More thrash riffs! Yes! Lou Reed just started singing and I swear to God there’s no way he’s being serious about this. Even ignoring the fact that he sounds intensely sick and confused in tone, he’s literally not singing with the beat of the song at all. The song just went into some absolutely bizarre psych-rock interlude, what with drones and random drum fills and a guitar solo that sort of sounds like when you’re getting all the notes wrong in Rock Band Expert Mode. I’ve only listened to about an eighth of this album, and this is already not fun anymore. I don’t think Lou Reed has, in his sixty-nine years of life, really discerned the difference between lyrics that are weird and disconcerting in a cool way and lyrics that are just sort of dumb. I still can’t print probably 85% of the material here. I also just realized that this song is less than half of the length of the longest track on the album. Can’t wait.

6:19:48 PM, EST: “Mistress Dread” just started playing. This song is the most hardcore yet, with a super extreme thrash riff and totally double-time drumming and weird synth tones in the background and oh man it’s called “Mistress Dread,” how cool is that. “Mistress Dread”? Come on, what is this, AFI? I really don’t want to listen to this right now. I’m also as of now fairly convinced that this album actually formed from two completely separate recording sessions that had nothing to do with each other and then someone spliced them together as a joke and posted it on the Internet. This is all a big prank right now. Metallica haven’t changed guitar chords in nearly three minutes. This song is so bad in such an uninteresting way that I have absolutely nothing to say about it, so how about that cover? The whole “dismantled doll” imagery is, of course, incredibly overdone, but can we talk about how the title of the album is written in blood? Lou Reed just said “you are my Goliath.” I keep thinking this song is going to end and then it doesn’t.

6:26:37 PM, EST: “Iced Honey” is probably the best track yet but is yet again really bothering me because, without Lou Reed, this would be just passably, unspectacularly bad music. But with him, it’s like a whole new dimension. It’s a nightmarish, apocalyptic vision of a world where things like a Lou Reed and Metallica collaborative album exist. The chorus to this one is, I think, “see if the ice will melt for you,” which sounds similar to a test you’d have to pass before crossing over a troll’s bridge or something. I could easily see Lou Reed as a troll living under a bridge. If that seems unnecessary or mean then you probably haven’t listened to Lulu.

6:32:00 PM, EST: The last track on the first disc of Lulu is called “Cheat on Me.” It’s eleven minutes long. It has a sort of cool ambient/strings intro, but I’m very wary of where it will go next. I know I’m probably starting to sound repetitive, but Lou Reed just started singing again, and it’s a seismic shock every time. His lyrics start, predictably, with “why do you cheat on me?” and then cycle through a bunch of combinations of subject pronouns before ending hilariously on “why do I cheat on me?” Lou Reed just asked himself why he cheats on himself. That’s so awesome. My brother just called me for dinner as James Hetfield’s vocals entered. Spared for now!

7:00:45 PM, EST: I’m back. Lou Reed keeps saying “why do I cheat on me?” and, like the album, it’s turned from cutely nonsensical and silly and clueless to just sort of annoying. Nothing of note has happened in this song except I’m pretty sure Lou Reed just said “Dougie”.

7:06:47 PM, EST: Moving on to Disc 2 of Lulu, I’ve realized that writing a paragraph for each song will make this review pretty unwieldy, so I’m only going to keep the best ones. Hopefully this is one of them, so you can–WAIT, Lou Reed just said “I’m crying icicles”. So now that’s something that you can’t forget. This song is so stupid and I hate it. Ben just said I can make this as long as I want so I rescind the first sentence of this entry. Here are some excerpts from Rolling Stone Magazine’s review of the track “The View” in celebration: “James Hetfield bellows like vengeance itself,” “wild-boy thrash and crushing power chords,” “real doom metal,” and perhaps the best of all, “the logic of this collaboration.”

7:15:17 PM, EST: This next song is called “Little Dog” and it starts with some acoustic guitar strumming. Normally I’d call this type of introduction “inoffensive” but now, after having experienced about fifty minutes of Lulu, I know better. This is the first track in which Lou Reed’s voice seems to have some sort of sonic proximity to the music being played; his weak croak is actually pretty fitting overall. I’m almost positive something terrible is about to happen, though. Either that or I get to listen to Lou Reed recite really awkward and bad poetry about the personality deficiencies of a dog over some generic acoustic guitar lines.

7:23:26 PM, EST: Home stretch here, folks. This track, “Dragon,” is eleven minutes, and then the last track, “Junior Dad,” is nineteen minutes. This track is more Lou Reed poetry over guitar feedback, so let’s use this time to go ahead and confront the elephant in the room, which is that the last track on a Lou Reed and Metallica album is called “Junior Dad”. I am not messing with you. You can look it up. So, what does that portend? Is “Junior Dad” ironic or anti-ironic or humor or anti-humor or silly (or anti-silly)? Did Metallica come up with that name or Lou Reed? If they did it collaboratively, does that mean that the song title “Junior Dad” alone is at least fifty thousand times better than anything else they accomplished together? (The answer is yes.) Remember how I said that there was a guitar solo in some other song (I can’t even be bothered to remember the song titles) that sounded like someone getting all the notes wrong in Rock Band? Well the guitar solo from “Dragon” that just ended sounded like someone getting all the notes wrong on DJ Hero. I’ve never even played DJ Hero but I’m almost one hundred percent positive that getting all the notes wrong would sound like that guitar solo. This song still has four minutes left and all that’s really happened is a) that guitar solo, b) Lou Reed has done more of his silly and super-depressing “I love you but I WANT TO KILL YOU” shtick, and c) Metallica have played the same riff ad infinitum, so I’m going to talk about one of the main criticisms levied against this record, as per a tweet via Patton Oswalt: “I like Lou Reed and I like Metallica. Also, I like sushi and I like caramel. You see my point.” Which makes sense, but I don’t think it’s necessarily analogous. This record isn’t much like eating caramel-covered sushi at all. It’s more like someone forcibly stuffing down caramel and sushi (like, bad sushi that you were supposed to throw out five weeks ago; also if caramel can even go bad then that, too) down your throat and then forcing you to listen to a Lou Reed and Metallica collaborative album while you choke. Okay, the song just ended.

7:34:43 PM, EST: My review may seem negative, even disparaging, towards this album, but I’m going to go ahead and admit it: listening to a 19-minute song called “Junior Dad” by Lou Reed and Metallica is a pretty exciting prospect. And hey, the song’s actually fairly pleasing so far! Lou Reed still isn’t anywhere near in tune, but Metallica are fairly good at slow, “inspiring” heavy jams, the background strings are impressively understated and cool, and Reed’s lyrics aren’t distractingly terrible yet. I have no idea if this is just relative to the constant nadir that is the first nine tracks of Lulu, but I actually really like “Junior Dad”. Lou Reed also just said “say hello to Junior Dad,” so that probably helped. I’m looking at the album artwork again and laughing so hard. I think this song should have ended a few minutes ago, and there are still ten minutes left. The last eight or so minutes of this song is just various string chords held for about a minute a time. I am determined to finish this. I think Lou Reed and co. are trying to inspire some sort of emotional catharsis in me but instead I’m just really bored and wish I were doing something else. Oh, wow, that’s it, the album just ended.

–Alex Robertson, Arts Editor

Posted by on October 21, 2011. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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